Friday, 21 October 2011

Initial Idea/Storyboard and Script

We were asked to prepare an initial storyboard for the 17th October. I started writing the script and drawing the storyboard simultaneously. In retrospect, this was the wrong way to start, though I felt I had to be able to show something at the session on the 17th. By this point, I had done the first 1/3 of the script and storyboard and had a clear vision of what the ending would entail too. The difficult part was the middle section of the film, for which I had very little ideas on how to approach.

In this version, I was focusing on Mollie being bullied. She is scared to go outside and play because the bullies always tease and taunt her.

Here is the script written for the first 1/3 of the film:

Opens with a shot of Mollie sitting on a beanbag in the school library, her back to a wall of windows. Children are playing outside, it‘s break time. She is sat, reading, looking quiet and content. Her lunch bag is next to her.
    She suddenly hears voices she’s all too familiar with. The voices are those of her bullies, who run by the window. Mollie ducks, covering her book over her head in an effort to hide from them. She holds the book there for a few seconds before lowering it and glancing out the window with a worrying expression.
Off screen:            “EHEM.”

Mollie turns towards the noise, surprised.

An old woman librarian holding several books and looking grumpy stares across the room where Mollie is. She raises her arm and points towards the window, gesturing for Mollie to go outside. The shot stays on the librarian, and Mollie walks towards the door just beside the woman, and walks out. The woman glares and watches Mollie leave.

Mollie steps out a door to the outside, holding her lunch bag to her chest. She looks from side to side and starts to walk but freezes as she sees her bullies run past her. She pushes herself against a wall and watches them, holding her breath. They do not see her and run on. She breathes out, relieved and begins to walk away quickly.

Ext. A secluded area, the quiet area for pupils, with a large willow-ish tree and a tiny rectangle pond and two benches facing towards it. The pond is slightly lower, as the benches are on a slight incline. The tree shades the area and gives it a calm and peaceful ambience.

Mollie sits down across from the pond. She opens her lunch bag and pulls out an apple and begins to eat it silently. Out of nowhere someone throws a rock which smacks into Mollie’s face. The shock makes her jump up. Her apple flies out of her hand and her lunch falls on the ground. The apple rolls down the hill and splashes into the pond. She turns around, one red cheek flaring and tears beginning to well up.

Offscreen: The sound of running footsetps and laughing.

She looks for the culprit(s), but noone’s there. Her face turns into a frown, and angrily she cries as she kneels down to pick up her lunch from the ground, putting it back into her bag.
    She stands up and starts to make her way towards the pond for her apple when she stops suddenly. There is a large white rabbit, 8 feet tall, sitting next to the pond, lapping at the water. As it continues to drink, the rabbit glances at Mollie, before bending it’s head and drinking some more. It starts to get up and as it does, the Rabbit picks up Mollie’s apple from the pond and bounces softly over to her, placing the apple at her feet. Mollie is still stunned. She bends to pick up the apple, and looks at the rabbit again. She turns her head to look for somebody, anybody who could be witnessing this too. But she is the only one. She turns towards the rabbit and wipes her tears from her eyes before offering the apple to the rabbit to eat. Its ears prick up excitedly and the rabbit eats the apple quickly off her hand. Mollie laughs and begins to stroke the rabbits nose, hesitantly at first, but softly and lovingly as the rabbit lets her.
Off screen sound: A bell rings for the end of break-time.

These are the first storyboard drafts. As you can see, they are not complete, and so don't show the last few moments as described in the script. These were done using a tablet on Photoshop.

At the seminar on the 17th we were asked to pair up with someone whose story development we hadn't seen much yet. I paired up with Pablo, who was able to give me some great feedback on my initial storyboards. We talked about the "bullies" situation in the story. He pointed out that it would be difficult to show Mollie and Babbit overcoming these bullies in a 'good' way without Mollie and Babbit 'getting their own back' or something of the sort. It was a tricky one to try and figure out, and we both agreed it was too complicated to be able to fit into a 3 minute film.

This I had already encountered at the initial storyboarding stage too. I had cut a scene down considerably from the point when Mollie first arrives at the pond. In the scene, Mollie has just sat down and begins to eat an apple. She then turns around and freezes when a bully is sitting right next to her on the bench, leaving Mollie terrified and frozen in fear. The bully then starts to tease Mollie until she jumps and the bully smacks the apple out of Mollie's hand which results in the apple rolling down towards the pond. This was instead cut down to having the apple fall out of Mollie's hand by having a bully throw a rock at her (as seen in the storyboards above) Here are the sketches from the cut scene:

So instead of focusing on the 'bullies' situation, I suggested some ideas that I was still thinking about, in that Mollie would be unconfident because she couldnt skip very well and therefore couldn't play with her classmates for feeling shy and embarassed. She will have made herself a recluse, and by Babbit coming into her life and showing her how to be confident and how to grow, she would learn how be happy and play with her friends the way she'd always wanted to. Pablo also pointed out that he liked the simple one-tone colour scheme used in the storyboard. It is definitely an element I will have to test in future colour/background/character design experiments.

I then had a feedback session with our tutor, James, who looked through my storyboard quickly and told me to go back and finish the script and go about the process in a different way. As I was still having trouble with my story in the middle, he encouraged me to draw 10 images that defined my film to help me focus on the story points and the important moments in my film.

From left to right:
1 - Mollie is lonely, sad and unconfident.
2 - She wants to join in playing with her freinds and classmates but feels inadequate and very embarassed that she can't skip very well.
3 - Mollie starts to cry when every attempt at skipping fails.
4 - Babbit appears and offers Mollie a 'shoulder to cry on'. She is comforted and feels a little better.

5 - Babbit helps Mollie to skip.
6 - Babbit is urging Mollie to step forward and face her fears. Mollie is unsure at first, but with Babbit there, she feels she can start to move on and gain more confidence.
7 - Mollie looking out at the playground watching her classmates all playing together.
8 - Babbit grows smaller, and Mollie is standing with the skipping rope in hand, looking a lot more confident than before, but slightly worried about Babbit's shrinking habits.
9 - Babbit notices a little boy who is upset on a bench. Mollie and Babbit both know what to do. Mollie must say goodbye to Babbit and Babbit must move on and help this boy now.
10 - Babbit has grown big again and the boy is stroking his fur and leaning in to him. Babbit has his eyes closed in content.


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